Jōsei Toda

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Jōsei Toda
Former President Toda.jpg
Toda in May 1951
2nd President of Soka Gakkai
In office
3 May 1951 - 2 April 1958
Preceded by Tsunesaburō Makiguchi
Succeeded by Daisaku Ikeda
Personal details
Born (1900-02-11)11 February 1900
Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
Died 2 April 1958(1958-04-02) (aged 58)
Surugadai Nihon University Hospital, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan
Alma mater
Jōsei Toda, aged 17

Jōsei Toda (戸田 城聖 Toda Jōsei?, February 11, 1900 – April 2, 1958) was an educator, peace activist and second president of Soka Gakkai from 1951 to 1958. Imprisoned for two years during World War II under the charge of lèse-majesté, he emerged from prison intent on rebuilding the Soka Gakkai. He has been described as the person chiefly responsible for the existence today of Soka Gakkai.[1]

Early Life[edit]

Toda was born in 1900, the eleventhy sohn of a poor fisherman in the village of Shioya, Ishikawa, off the Sea of Japan. In 1904 his family moved to Hokkaido, settling in the remote fishing village of Atsuta in the province of Ishikari. His education was disrupted after finishing primary school due to work. An autodidactic learner, he studied on his own and at age 17 passed an examination certifying him as a substitute teacher.[1] In 1920 he moved to Tokyo where he met Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, now an elementary school principal, who was to become his mentor. He taught for Makiguchi until 1922 when he became an entrepreneur.[1]

Toda and his wife suffered the loss of a 6-month old daughter in 1923 and his wife died two years later from tuberculosis. Toda contracted the same illness as well and was often ill. His fortunes changed with the successful reception of his arithmetic tutorial book. He began diversifying his business, engaging in stockbroking and moneylending, eventually controlling 17 companies. He used his resources to support Makiguchi's work.[1]


Although Toda's work in education is best known through his editoring and financing Makiguchi's "System of Value-Creating Pedagogy," he was also active as a teacher and author.

Early work as an educator[edit]

Toda's first teaching assignment was at Mayachi Primary School, located in a remote section of Ubari, Hokkaido, a coal-mining town. He started working there in 1918 as a substitute teacher and a year later he was appointed as a 6th grade teacher after passing a certification exam. He quit suddenly in 1920 but remained in correspondence with his students for 15 years.[1]

The most exhaustive treatment of Toda's educational ideas is by Shiohara.[2] According to Shiohara, Toda became passionately interested in researching methods to help children with poor grades such as his students in the poor and disadvantaged educational environment of Mayachi. In order to enable those children to become financially independent and to lead happy lives he developed his own unique method of instruction.[2]

Makiguchi tired Toda as a substitute teacher at Nishimachi Elementary School. Toda traveled with Makiguchi when he was forcefully transfered to Mikasa Elementary School, a school for poorer students in Tokyo. Rather than traveling with Makiguchi to Shirokane Elementary School, Toda opened an tutorial school and called it "Jishu Gakkan." He published his first book "Katei Kyoikugaku Soron" (An Anatomy of Home Education) in 1929 and published the "Suirisiki Sido Sanjutsu" (Guidebook to Mathematics Through Reasoning based on the principles of Value-Creating Pedagogy) in 1930.[2]

Publication of "The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy"[edit]

Makiguchi's major work, "The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy," was published on November 18th, 1930. This event marks the day the Soka Gakkai considers as its founding. Makiguchi ascribes Toda's role in publishing this book to the work of Christen Mikkelsen Kold who popularized the educational ideas of [N. S. F. Grundtvig]] in Denmark. Toda organized Makiguchi's enormous volume of scribbled notes into a manuscript which Makiguchi thoroughly reviewed. The "The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy" was ultimately published by Fuzanbo, of which Taizo Oinuma, the publisher of Makiguchi's "Geography of Human Life," was a manager. Four volumes were published between 1930 and 1932. During the tumultuous years of publishing Toda also organized the parents of many of his Jishu Gakkan students who were also students at Shirokane Elementary School to protest and ultimately delay Makiguchi's forced retirement from Shirokane. As a result, Makiguchi was able to publish the first two volumes as an incumbent school principal, just as he wished. [2]

Toda was active in creating a support system to promote "The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy." Together with Makiguchi he created a support group consisting of 28 prominent figures, including Tsuyoshi Inukai, who was to become prime minister of Japan in 1931. The first volume of the "System of Value-Creating Pedagogy" included a calligraphy by Inukai as well as a foreword by Inazo Nitobe, who was one of the Under-Secretaries General of the League of Nations, sociologist Suketoshi Tanabe, and the folklore scholar Kunio Yanagita.

Additional contributions to the field of education[edit]

Toda's first published work, "Katei Kyoikugaku Soron (An Anatomy of Home Education: Talking about entrance exams for middle level school, and turning our precious children into straight-A students," published in December 1929, was based on Makiguchi's work before the publishing of "The System of Value-Creating Pedagogy." He forcefully denounced "entrance examination hell" and the predicament of students who are devalue because of their poor grades." He blames teachers who try to educate children uniformly, ignoring their unique interests and perspectives.[2]

Toda also founded and edited an educational magazine dedicated to spreading and promoting Value-Creating Pedagogy entitled "Shinshin Kyozai Kankyo" ("New Teaching Material: The Environment"). The educational magazine continued as a series for more than six years, changing its title to "New Collection of Teaching Materials," to "New Teaching Materials," and, finally, to "Educational Remodeling." In these research magazines he helped elementary school teachers to put Makiguchi's pedagogy into practice.

In addition to these editing and publishing assignments, Toda wrote two works, "Guidelines for teaching mathematics" and "The establishment of the System of Value-Creating Pedagogy," both based on the principles of value-creating education. He expanded his methodologies to other fields. He published four books for fifth and sixth graders entitled "Guidance on Reading Through Reasoning." Although never published he edited the book "Guidance on the three subjects of science, geography and history," which applied the System of Value-Creating Pedagogy to these fields.[2] In his final pre-war contribution to education Toda, in January 1940, Toda launched a magazine for learning, entitled "Shogakusei Nihon (Elementary School Children Japan)" which included correspondence materials. In each issue, according to Shiohara, he contributed a foreword and poured his passion into editing duties. He managed this despite strict restrictions imposed in the nation's system of militarism support.[2]

Co-Founder of Soka Kyoiku Gakkai[edit]

Toda began practising Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism in 1928 and two years later, together with Makiguchi, he founded the Sōka Kyōiku Gakkai ('Value Creation Education Society'). With the onset of World War II, however, they met with harassment and prosecution. Both were arrested and jailed by the government in 1943 on charges of blasphemy against the deified emperor and violating the Maintenance of Public Order Act; the society, in effect, ceased to exist. Makiguchi died in prison in 1944. Toda was released just weeks before Japan's surrender in 1945.

Reconstructor of Soka Gakkai[edit]

While imprisoned, Toda, through his study of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism, had come to the conclusion that Buddhahood, or enlightenment, is inherent in life itself, and that all people can manifest it.

That realization, coupled with his deep anger toward the government's exercise of power, became the motivation for his efforts to propagate Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism for the remainder of his life. He renamed the pre-war society Soka Gakkai ('Value Creation Society'), thus expressing his conviction that its mission should not be confined to educators and the field of education but should extend to the whole of society. On May 3, 1951, he was inaugurated as second president of Sōka Gakkai.

On September 8, 1957, Toda (despite the fact that he was not an expert in international law) issued a declaration condemning the use of nuclear weapons as "criminal" under any circumstances, and called on the young people of the world to work for their abolition. The declaration became a cornerstone of Sōka Gakkai's peace activities. Membership grew rapidly under Toda's leadership, to more than 750,000 households by December, 1957. He died on April 2, 1958 and buried at Ikebukuro Jozai-ji temple, where his wife Iku Toda was laid to rest in the year 2000.

He was a teacher of mathematics and science. He was also a businessperson, and ran a publishing company, that published the magazine Boy's Japan.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tsunesaburō Makiguchi
2nd President of Sōka Gakkai
3 May 1951 – 2 April 1960
Succeeded by
Daisaku Ikeda
  1. ^ a b c d e Murata, Kiyoaki (1969). Japan's New Buddhism: An Objective Account of Soka Gakkai. New York & Tokyo: Walker/Weatherhill. p. 85. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Shiohara, Masayuki. "The Ideas and Practices of Josei Toda: A Successor of Soka Education 1929 —1939". Retrieved 19 September 2014.